Modernising our regulatory decision-making
In October 2019, we published a new edition of the BSB Handbook which modernised our regulatory decision-making by introducing new Enforcement Decision Regulations.
The changes reflect a new and more efficient Regulatory Operations regime. We consulted on this in 2018. The Regulations, which do not alter the obligations on barristers, are designed to streamline and improve the way that we assess and handle reports about those whom we regulate.
The reforms included the establishment of a new Independent Decision-making Body (IDB) which was created to take independent enforcement and other regulatory decisions. It replaced the Professional Conduct Committee (PCC) and the Authorisations Review Panel (ARP)
A new Independent Reviewer role was also created to carry out requests for the review of individual decisions, as well as periodic audits of cases to give assurance that our regulatory decision-making is operating fairly and effectively and in line with agreed policies and procedures.
As part of the changes, all incoming queries and information sent to us are now assessed centrally. This single point of initial contact makes sending information to us easier for members of the public and for barristers. It also helps us to assess risks more consistently and to ensure that they are always addressed appropriately, thereby enhancing our risk-based approach to regulation.
You can read more about how we do our work on our website at https://www.barstandardsboard.org.uk/about-us.html
A new website
We also recently relaunched our website with the aim of making it easier for the profession and the public to access the information they need. There is now a dedicated section for barristers and legal professionals which contains everything that those whom we regulate need to know. You can access this at https://www.barstandardsboard.org.uk/for-barristers.html
Our new BSB Handbook feature makes searching for specific rules simpler and easier, without having to download the Handbook.
And finally, a reminder about the new Bar transparency rules
We brought new transparency rules into force in July. Since then, there has been an implementation period for the Bar to comply with the new rules. This implementation period comes to an end in January 2020 after which we will begin spot-checking. Although our initial focus will be on ensuring compliance rather than resorting to enforcement action, it is important that everyone meets the requirements laid out in the new rules.
There are mandatory rules for all self-employed barristers, chambers and BSB entities, who must comply by providing information about price, service and redress on all their websites. If you do not have a website, you must comply by ensuring the required information is readily available in alternative format and make sure this is provided to consumers on request.
There are also additional transparency rules for those undertaking Public Access work.
You can read the detailed transparency rules on our website at https://www.barstandardsboard.org.uk/for-barristers/compliance-with-your-obligations/transparency-rules.html
We have also published guidance which aims to support you in complying with the mandatory rules. It includes resources to help such as checklists, examples of how to provide information in an alternative format and, for the Public Access services listed in the current version of our price transparency policy statement, examples of the required transparency.
Oliver Hanmer, BSB Director of Regulatory Operations